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Families of Aurora Shooting Victims Are Voicing Concerns About Joker

Families of Aurora Shooting Victims Are Voicing Concerns About 'Joker'

Families of Aurora Shooting Victims Are Voicing Concerns About 'Joker'

Those affected by the 2012 tragedy wrote a letter to Warner Bros. about the upcoming film.


Warner Bros.' upcoming Joker film may have won big at this year's Venice Film Festival, and Joaquin Phoenix's portrayal of the popular DC supervillain may have started some awards season chatter, but many people (rightfully) aren't too happy about the movie's supposed portrayal of a murderous social outcast who goes on a killing spree after being shunned by society—especially those who have personally been affected by mass violence in real life.  

That's the concern the friends and family members of the victims of the 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado are expressing in an open letter to Warner Bros., reports Variety. The tragedy, which took place at a local movie theater during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises (another Warner Bros./DC title), claimed 12 lives and reignited a massive, ongoing debate about gun control in the U.S. 

"We are the family members and friends of the 12 people killed at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20, 2012. This tragic event, perpetrated by a socially isolated individual who felt “wronged” by society has changed the course of our lives," the letter, which was addressed to Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff, begins. "As a result, we have committed ourselves to ensuring that no other family ever has to go through the absolute hell we have experienced and the pain we continue to live with. Trust us, it does not go away."

The letter continues: 

"When we learned that Warner Bros. was releasing a movie called Joker that presents the character as a protagonist with a sympathetic origin story, it gave us pause.

We want to be clear that we support your right to free speech and free expression. But as anyone who has ever seen a comic book movie can tell you: with great power comes great responsibility. That’s why we’re calling on you to use your massive platform and influence to join us in our fight to build safer communities with fewer guns.

Over the last several weeks, large American employers from Walmart to CVS have announced that they are going to lean into gun safety. We are calling on you to be a part of the growing chorus of corporate leaders who understand that they have a social responsibility to keep us all safe.

Specifically, we’re asking you to do the following:
-End political contributions to candidates who take money from the NRA and vote against gun
reform. These lawmakers are literally putting your customers and employees in danger.
-Use your political clout and leverage in Congress to actively lobby for gun reform. Keeping
everyone safe should be a top corporate priority for Warner Brothers.
-Help fund survivor funds and gun violence intervention programs to help survivors of gun violence
and to reduce every-day gun violence in the communities you serve.

Since the federal government has failed to pass reforms that raise the standard for gun ownership in America, large companies like Warner Brothers have a responsibility to act. We certainly hope that you do.

Sandy Phillips
Lonnie Phillips
Tiina Coon
Theresa Hoover
Heather Dearman"

This isn't the only action being called against the controversial film, which is set for national release on October 5. 

According to Entertainment Weekly, the theater where the Aurora shooting happened will not be screening Joker out of respect for the victims, and while talking to The Hollywood Reporter, Sandy Phillips, the first signer of the open letter said the movie is "like a slap in the face."

"My worry is that one person who may be out there—and who knows if it is just one—who is on the edge, who is wanting to be a mass shooter, may be encouraged by this movie. And that terrifies me," Phillips told THR.

While Joker may be garnering critical praise, it's important to ask, especially in this social climate where mass violence is an almost daily occurrence that real people have to deal with, why was there a need to portray a violent killer as protagonist in a big-budget, blockbuster movie in the first place?

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